by Pam Zubeck
An El Paso County jury today found former El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa not guilty of three charges that he misused the power of his office, but they could not come to agreement on four charges.If you're interested in some outside the mainstream impressions of the Maketa trial, check out this website being run by foes of Sheriff Elder. One point made on this website comes from a statement from prosecutor Mark Hurlbert after the trial when he thanks the El Paso County Sheriff's Office for putting in a lot of work on the investigation. Dirtyelder.com says, officials have said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation, as noted in the press release above. The website asserts without citing a legal source that the Sheriff's Office's involvement could pose a conflict of interest.
Maketa was acquitted of tampering with a witness/victim (class 4 felony); conspiracy to commit tampering (class 5 felony); and one count of first-degree official misconduct (class 2 misdemeanor).
The jury could not come to agreement on charges of extortion (class 4 felony); conspiracy to commit extortion (class 5 felony); and two counts of first-degree official misconduct (class 2 misdemeanor).
The charges stem from an investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation into allegations that Maketa used his position to punish people who crossed him.
The case was presented to the El Paso County Grand Jury, which returned indictments against Maketa, Undersheriff Paula Presley and Inspector Juan San Agustin on May 25, 2016. The District Attorney’s Office of the 18th Judicial District was appointed special prosecutor, with Assistant District Attorney Mark Hurlbert and Deputy District Attorney Wilcox trying the cases before the 4th Judicial Court Judge Larry Schwartz.
Hurlbert thanked the court and the jury for the opportunity to try the case.
“These were legitimate allegations that were taken seriously by the people of El Paso County,” he said. “We respect the judicial process and appreciate the conscientious work of the jury.”
The cases against Presley and San Agustin are pending; those defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.